Good Friday in Battery Point

Disembarking at our St Ives apartment late on Easter Thursday I decide as I’ve now run 67 consecutive days that this should continue. It matters not that we’re in another state. So, in the Good Friday morning stillness I jog south on the Sandy Bay Road.

 

There’s a trickle of traffic and I pass the Doctor Syntax pub: solemn and grey and vaguely medieval. I love that there’s a comic figure, British thoroughbred, play and rock album all named for this medical and grammatical character. Easing down the footpath I vow that we’ll invest an hour late one Easter afternoon. The roadside signage promises all manner of pubby treats. There’s a beer garden too.

 

Further along is the Sandy Bay bakery with thickening knots of folk on the street, all poised with lattes and brioche things. I pick my way past.

 

Then I turn off the Sandy Bay Road and steer towards the water and Errol Flynn Reserve. Named for the celebrated 1930s Hollywood star who was born in Hobart, the reserve is neither swashbuckling nor braggadocious. It’s surprisingly modest and utterly lacking in Freudian imagery.

 

The hushed streets and handsome weatherboard homes and benign, flat river remind me of the play for voices, Under Milkwood and I wonder, slogging along, about Captain Cat, Nogood Boyo and Mr. Mog Edwards, those most magnificent creations of Dylan Thomas. I recall the beginning-

 

‘It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters’-and-rabbits’ wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboatbobbing sea’

 

With the Hobart atmosphere resting gently on the bay, I steal across the Royal Yacht club of Tasmania carpark towards the Derwent Sailing Squadron. Many 4WDs have nosed their broad beaks into the spaces although I spot no sailors on the balcony. Dry-docked craft hang about like timber phantoms.

 

My destination is the Wrest Point casino, defined by its dire ’70s concrete tower reminiscent of Glenelg’s Revolving restaurant, itself for some time now an empty, hideous blob. If nothing else Hobart’s casino seems persistent. I nod at it. I’m rarely a casino patron but there used to be an excitement in visiting one. Now it seems to me that there’s a sharper sense of occasion popping down the servo Sunday evening for a block of fruit ‘n’ nut.

 

Completing a U-turn, I’m now on a dirt coastal path with a curmudgeonly sign forbidding dogs. Why escapes me and I then encounter a pair of happily defiant owners and their snouting hounds. People and Hounds – 1, Authorities – 0.

 

In a playground I pass a ruddy-cheeked couple with a toddler, all surging towards a stationary swing, their worlds necessarily shrunk. Puffer-jackets, flat whites, and singular smiles. They’re having a very good Friday.

 

Swinging into Napoleon Street and as promised by the motel receptionist I confront a hilly challenge. With nothing like it in pancake Glenelg, I tiptoe up its sharp tarmac, my calves pinging like a submarine radar. The sunlight bends in across me with kindly promise and assists my ascent.

 

Rumbling up the curiously named Trumpeter Street the sail-white and seafaring-blue façade of the Shipwright Arms gladdens me as I drift past. It’s inviting and stately but there’s an abandoned rum can by its front door. What should I expect at a nautical pub in this most nautical town? I promise an hour in its lounge-room like front bar by week’s end (gee, our week’s fast filling up).

 

Homeward bound through Battery Point, noted bakery Jackson and McRoss sits invitingly on the curb, all close and confident, like many Hobart frontages, as if they’ve been plonked there by the road, direct from London. It’s prosperous and caffeinated and sticky-bunned beneath its green sign. For these peoples it’s already a good Friday.

 

Drippy-browed and clingy-shirted in the motel foyer I poke the elevator button. Our MONA ferry departs in an hour.

 

 

 

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About Mickey Randall

Now whip it into shape/ Shape it up, get straight/ Go forward, move ahead/ Try to detect it, it's not too late/ To whip it, whip it good

Comments

  1. Hobart is such a great place to visit, Mickey.
    And the coffee at Jackson and McRoss is superb.

  2. Roger Lowrey says

    Yes Mickey, I well recall from my own running days that once you deviate from Sandy Bay Road the topography doesn’t stay flat very long.

    I agree with Smokie though. Hobart is indeed a great place to visit. Hope the MONA excursion went well. We happily spent the best part of a day there when we visited early last year.

    Having said all that, I am just a little disappointed by the lack of any reference to local sausage roll purveyors. However I fully imagine this will be covered in follow up plenary assessments prior to your arrival back home in your much loved seaside palindrome.

    RDL

  3. Thanks Smokie. It certainly is tremendous. We’re now in the Huon at Police Point having collected some baked goods from Jackson and McRoss on our departure. Would love to be able to go to the Footy Almanac lunch at Doctor Syntax and the footy at Bellerive Oval but it doesn’t quite work.

    Roger- I first went to MONA in 2017 and it has evolved significantly since in my view. I reckon the app is great and I especially loved David Walsh’s gonzo commentary on some of the exhibits. He really is an original thinker and would make for compelling dinner party company is my guess. Looking forward to reading his memoirs soon.

    Thanks.

  4. Mark Duffett says

    Napoleon St. is nasty. When faced with getting from Sandy Bay to the city I much prefer the Bath St. route, less direct but considerably gentler.

    If still down the Huon I highly recommend the Huon Valley Bakery, run by a family who used to operate Wenzel’s in Glenelg and thus not coincidentally are one of the very rare Tasmanian purveyors of Kitchener buns and other German-influenced delicacies. They also speak fluent SANFL.

  5. Thanks Mark. We called into Huonville to get supplies earlier in the week but missed the bakery which is just down the street from the boldly named chook shop, Legs n Breasts.

    We also called into Willie Smith’s Apple Shed and spent a terrific hour learning about cider and the convict turned businessman history of the company. Highly recommended (the stop-off not being a convict).

    After a big afternoon hiking in Cockle Creek we popped into the Dover RSL and enjoyed the views over Port Esperance over a cheap beer and wine. It’s been a great week and a bit.

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